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Cromwell’s slaves – 1658

Oliver Cromwell's signature before becoming Lord 'Protector' in 1653, and afterwards.
Oliver Cromwell’s signature before becoming Lord ‘Protector’ in 1653, and afterwards.

The London “Athenaeum” has published the following letter:
23 Leeson Park, Dublin

In your issue of April 29, Mr W.F.P. Stockley remarks that “many people would like to have the evidence for and against Cromwell’s sending Irish prisoners to the West Indies.” Prendergast, in his “Cromwellian Settlement of Ireland,” (London, Longman 1865) quoting in part from the Ofder Books of the Commonwealth of England for the Affairs of Ireland, preserved in the Record Towre (sic.), Dublin Castle, wrote as follows:

“After the summer Assizes of 1658, Sir Charles Coote, Lord President of Connaught, and Colonel Sadleir, governor of Galway, were directed to treat with Colonel Stubbers or other merchants about having a properly victualled ship for eighty or one hundred prisoners ready to sail with the first fair wind to the Indian Bridges, the usual landing place in the Barbadoes, or other English plantations, thereabouts in America. These were proprietors who had been sentenced to death for not transplanting but had been pardoned by his excellency. At Barbadoes the prisoners were to be delivered to certain merchants (who were to pay the cost of transportation), all except ten, who were to be consigned to a person to be speedily named. This was a Mr. Edward Smyth, a merchant resident at the Barbadoes. His lot, however, was afterward increased to twelve, ten men and two women, and upon receiving them at the Indian Bridges, or elsewhere in that island, he was to pay Colonel Stubbers four pounds per man for transportation and victuals.”

Prendergast gives in a series of footnotes references to the various pages of the Order Books in which the entries are to be found which justify his statements. In Hardiman’s “History of Galway”, p 134 it is stated that Stubbers transported from the city to the West Indies no fewer than 1,000 persons, whom he there sold as slaves. A letter to Lord Byron in Carte’s “Collection,” vol. II, p. 412 asserts that the thirty survivors of the citizens and garrison of Drogheda “all that were left of them” after five days of massacre were shipped to the West Indies to be sold as slaves.



B.A., M.A.(Archaeology); Regional Tour Guide; Dip. Radio Media Tech; H.Dip. Computer Science.

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